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The March of Ides

I want to see a renaissance in kitchen sink realism. People need to get angry, but killing each other only leaves arguments unresolved.

Escapism is the two-way toilet. It lets us ignore the world, sure. But it also allows us to blame fantasy instead of actual culprits. Terrorism is as formless as a bad idea. Russian hysteria is as intangible as gossip. The Illuminati isn’t droning kids to bite-sized chunks. We don’t live these lives of indentured servitude because we don’t work hard enough or because we upset god. No matter what our neighbors look like or how they define love, they are wrestling the same angels for rent-money as anyone else. The people with the real power shelter themselves from the world, out of unvoiced shame. You won’t meet them at rallies or see them on TV. Thousands of anonymous slaves died building the pyramids, while this same class of power hid in its palaces building myths about themselves. Very much like the delusions we tell ourselves to lessen the pain of relationships gone wrong after the fact.

But no matter how great a dream sounds it is not real. Blanket refusal to accept that is why wars get fought, why we fold to partisanship. Affording value to whatever lets us sleep at night is one thing, but giving weight to any collective hallucination destroys us individually. Instead of branding, all scornful towards anything contrary to the tenets of our fantasy, we should consider the reality already shared. There will always be anonymous slaves to replace every last one of us, but getting to know who we are, seeing the same scars, is solace. We are only as alone as we want to be.

My experiences only partly came from luck of the draw, as I willingly accept the blame for choosing the roads I take. Trying to live without money is by no means an easy route. It is certainly possible however, and when you drop the charade of giving up your life for the chance to survive financially, you find that many other incidental distractions are also lost along the way. The road becomes more open, less cluttered. Bartering and trading for goods and services is not merely a concept on paper. I tend to work obsessively and I live a spartan existence anyway, but choosing to not play into the system is incredibly liberating.

Granted, depression was necessary at times. Virtues evidently have little place in today’s world, for most persons, which can be so disheartening. But in the world I am creating for myself, evolving from one gray hair to the next, that does not need to be the case at all. Conformity equates to false communion. When people hide behind their chosen roles, their status symbols to keep up with the neighbors and react to the neighbors, they deny themselves. When everyone is obsessed with being alike then nobody really knows who each other is. When people lose sight of everything on the endless search for quiet complacency, among the money-lenders of our society, they deny themselves. For good or ill, I wear no masks, and have never allowed culture to define my identity. Identity should inform culture. I want to do my part to save the world as much as any other daydreamer, but without enabling a culture so displaced from heart or mind. I’m not buying anything, but I’m not selling anything either.

Throughout the entirety of my 20s I probably averaged 100-hour work weeks (sometimes more), generally holding down multiple jobs at once, and more often than not while without a home of my own. Usually a full-time with one or two part-time jobs, but in some seasons two full-time jobs, or just a whole lot of part-time jobs all at once. And none of this is counting freelance writing/editing as I rarely consider that work in the traditional sense. But I barely broke even. I was a hard worker to the point where co-workers felt that I was trying to show them up, and management thought I was gunning for their own jobs. I worked hard to make the time fly by so I could get the hell out for the day or night or the next job. I was never at work to make friends, or enemies. I did whatever was necessary to stay ahead of whatever meager bills I generated while finding myself always having to hand over anything extra to whatever girl I was sleeping with that year. Crap jobs pay crap money no matter how many hours sacrificed. I was a zombie, basically. Routines will strangle years out of you.

And when I was not at work I drank like a school of fishes. I never slept. I’d get home and down a fifth of bourbon, or when money was better I’d go through 2 or 3 bottles of the cheapest pinot noir I could find. I would drink and drink and drink til it was time to shower and go clock back in. And I would be the rock-star of my job, whether I was digging graves or whatever. When I’d burn out of one job they would have to hire multiple persons to replace me. I was not some shining definition of a functioning alcoholic, however, although I generally went many months and months without a single day off anywhere. I could kill a half gallon of vodka in a night, no problem. The worst hangovers I ever suffered really were just a matter of feeling numb, like just a coffee away from being totally awake. But my work never suffered. I never lost either a job or a home to my drinking. It never affected a relationship. My constitution was god-like but even gods will grow feeble and exhausted. Eventually I realized that if I stopped working, stopped contributing to society, then I no longer felt the need to drink. I will socially, on the rare occasion, but “cause” and “effect” for me were easily identifiable. I knew people who hosted meetings for AA and NA; I’d attend just to hear others speak. And realizing that I never raped the family dog or any of the other things I heard I knew my problem was never a real problem. Apples and quantum semantics.

Before, I have scrubbed toilets. I have flipped hamburg. I have painted houses. I have dug hundreds of graves. I joke now and say I left after realizing most people will happily dig their own. I have worked in loud factories. I have shoveled fresh compost, I have shoveled fresh snow. I have played security guard. I have mowed lawns. I have worked retail as a clerk selling comic books and as a clerk selling liquor. I have changed colostomy bags. I have moved furniture. I have mopped barroom floors (once even on a Christmas morning). I have washed dishes, pots and pans. I have dismantled barns. I have had my nose broken and ribs cracked breaking up fist-fights. I have been a nude model. I have walked miles upon miles to and from work, and never in my life have I known an honest employer. All I ever seemed to walk away with were stories.

A lot of my freelance work in recent years involved interviewing creatives for various outlets, in print and online. Finding ways to get artists to put their ideas into words may not provide enough to tangibly live on, but it provided constant food for thought. Where serendipity and individuality compliment each other, buy one another a drink and talk late into the night of inconsequential little things, like the disassociation of identity from personality in this modern era. The evilness of the world can only be battled with laughter, with a maniacal stoicism, yet none of us are brave enough to be the loudest in a public restroom.

And I want to believe I am not alone in these ideals. Life is uncomfortable, nevermind the problematics of job-hunting with spears work that pays under the table or off the books, although I appreciated the comments I received cashing checks from Heavy Metal Magazine at the liquor store round the way. Life is rich enough to be conducted frugally, similar to the hyper-acuteness of foreplay, treasuring every little bit because genuine application is obscenely rare and even the worst can give you something to learn from.

Buying only what you honestly require is not that hard. I’ve never had a credit card in my life and by pure coincidence I’ve also never been even remotely in debt. I move around a lot, and camp more often than not. It’s all about not enabling the status quo, which like these drapes have got to go. I totally admit how much of a struggle it is trying to not be dependent on anyone for anything. I wish I could go further and truly be the hippy in the woods type, growing veggies and all that, but even private property is a myth in modern America thanks to Eminent Domain and the like.

I completely stopped even pretending to look for “real work” several years ago, around the same time I stopped filing taxes. I like the tiny paper trail of random odd-jobs (even room and board gigs inevitably end with indentured servitude). I learned somewhere that I am fine with roughing it if it means sleeping with a clean conscience. The experiences of life are frustrating and humiliating and infuriating, but I found that there are things more important than happiness in the world. A life free of distraction allows me to see it all, like an unobstructed starry night’s sky.

When society falls apart my days will go unchanged. Having destroyed myself every single day of my life, nobody else can possibly return the favor.